CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 470
TitleSir Arthur Keith, knight, anatomist and anthropologist: papers
Date1890 - 1933
Extent1 file
Creator NameSir Arthur Keith (1866 - 1955), knight, anatomist and anthropologist
Administrative HistoryArthur Keith was born in Old Machar, Aberdeen, on 5 February 1866, the sixth of ten children. He graduated from Aberdeen University, MB, CM 1888, MD 1894, and was elected Rector there, 1930 - 1933. He was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1913 and knight bachelor in 1921. He was joint lecturer on Anatomy at London Hospital Medical School, and later museum conservator and Hunterian Professor, Royal College of Surgeons of England, 1908 - 1933, and Fullerian Professor of Physiology, Royal Institution, 1917 - 1923.

Shortly after his graduation, he accompanied James Trail, Professor of Natural History in the University of Aberdeen, to Siam as Medical Officer on a mining concession, where he remained for two years, before returning to England on the grounds of ill health. Whilst there he developed an interest in botany and collected many specimens for the Director of the Botanical Gardens in Singapore to help with his compilation of the flora of the Malay peninsula. On his return to England he studied for his MD and FRCS, which he received within two years and for the lack of any suitable paid work, engaged himself in comparative research on the brains of humans and apes.

In 1906 he made the significant discovery, with Flack, of the sino-articular node in the heart. However, from 1908 he devoted himself to evolutionary and anthropological problems and it is for this work that he is best remembered: his Hunterian lecture on 'The Remains of Fossil Man', participation in the famous Piltdown controversy, and publication of 'The Antiquity of Man' (London: Williams and Norgate, 1915).

For further biographical details, including publications and membership of professional bodies see Who Was Who, 1951 - 1960 ; and obituary in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 1955 , 1, 145-161.
Custodial HistoryDate and source of deposit not recorded. Possibly deposited in the University by Sir Arthur Keith, c. 1933, upon completion of his tenure as University Rector, or after his death in 1955.
DescriptionAnatomical drawings and offprints of articles by Sir Arthur Keith (1866-1955), connected with his enquiries into posture, and the mechanism of respiration, 1890, c 1905 - 1933; with 2 letters from Sir Edwin Ray Lankester (1847 - 1929), F.R.S. (1875) on the human foot, n.d. (6 Feb and 22 Feb).

Offprints contained in the collection include Arthur Keith, 'Contributions to the Human Mechanism of Respiration', reprinted from 'Proceedings of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland' (May 1903), 51 - 61; Arthur Keith, 'Why does Phthisis Attack the Apex of the Lung? A discussion at the Medical Society, London Hospital, opened by Dr Arthur Keith' (29th October 1903); Arthur Keith, 'A Variation that Occurs in the Manubrium Sterni of Higher Primates', reprinted from 'Journal of Anatomy and Physiology', 30 (1895-1896), 275 - 279; Arthur Keith, 'The Nature of the Mammallian Diaphragm and Pleural Cavities', reprinted from 'Journal of Anatomy and Physiology', 39 (1905), 244 - 284; Arthur Keith, 'The Results of an Anthropological Investigation of the External Ear', reprinted from 'Proceedings of the Anatomical and Anthropological Society of the University of Aberdeen', 1904 - 1906 (1906), 217 - 239; and C.S. Sherrington, 'Note on the Knee-jerk and the Correlation of Action of Antagonistic Muscles', reprinted from 'Proceedings of the Royal Society', 52 (1893), 556-564.
AppraisalThis material has been appraised in line with normal procedures.
AccrualsNone expected.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsOpen, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet
Physical DescriptionNo physical characteristics affecting use of collection
Related MaterialKeith's personal papers, 1908 - 1933, are deposited in the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Other minor papers are held in the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Medical Research Council, West Yorkshire Archive Service, University College London, and the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.

A small volume of papers of, and relating to, Keith is also deposited in the University, amongst the papers of Robert Douglas Lockhart (1894 - 1987), a contemporary and friend of Keith (MS 3270). These include Lockhart's review of Sir Arthur Keith's autobiography, 1950 - 1966 (MS 3270/6/3); photocopies of correspondence between Lockhart and Keith, 1945, 1979 and undated (MS 3270/6/3); a letter from Keith regarding his lecture on 'The History of the Human Foot and Its Bearing on Orthopaedic Practice', 1928 (MS 3270/2/4/5/4), several photographs of Keith (MS 3270/8/5), and other minor papers.
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